FemCON: Gaming Girls at GenCon
By Jane Pinckard
A friend had told me about the NASCRAG tournament, which runs at GenCon every year. NASCRAG stands for National Association of CRAzy Gamers – and they live up to their name. They run wildly funny campaigns in which puzzle-solving and role-playing count for more than min-maxing your stats. I had great fun in my session, and I got to observe briefly a session DMed by Carole Bland, the organizer of NASCRAG, whose 11-year-old son was co-DMing with her. “That’s great!” I said. She smiled. “He does the sound effects!”
Carole got into gaming through war games, as I found out through a follow-up email interview. “Yeah, I know its not the usual way a ‘girl‘ gets involved with gaming, but I liked the strategy involved.” She’s been going to GenCon since 1987. That makes her an uber-gamer, in my book. She plays all kinds of games, not just RPGs – board games, war games, card games, computer games – at least, when she can find the time. Like Jennifer, it seems she’s incorporated gaming into her social routine. “When we get together with friends we will play games like Settlers of Catan, RA, Apples to Apples, and some of the railroad games like Empire Builder. We usually play several times a month and will often try a new game for variety.”
They often bring the kids, who make up their own adventures and sometimes. “Gary (he’s 11 years old) is just getting into gaming. This was the second year that he sat behind the GM screen at Gencon. The rule is that he cannot sit behind the screen with me or my husband unless he has read the module. He is not involved with our regular campaign, but we bring our kids to the gm’s house and they end up making up their own adventures. My son really likes writing his own modules. He likes playing Apples to Apples and Settlers of Catan with the adults.”
Wow. What must it be like to have gaming parents? I wonder if I would have thought that was cool or not when I was eleven? I love the image of family time D&D games. The family that slays together, stays together?
But the bulk of Carole‘s involvement with gaming these days is in an official capacity, organizing the NASCRAG GenCon event, making sure that other people are having a good time. She puts together the huge module, with the help of some other long-standing judges, and then they rigorously play-test them to make sure they are fun, funny, and balanced. I wonder if she mentors other young budding GMs – say, her son, for instance, who is growing up totally okay with D&D, and comfortable that women are fully involved in gaming!
Carole really inspired me. I had played around for a long time with the idea of running my own D&D campaign, writing up the modules, imagining the world. I already had stacks and stacks of maps and notes on fantasy worlds I’d built as a kid. And I had this fascination with the idea of running an all-female campaign, just because I’d never been in one. It’s only recently that I found a gaming group that has another woman besides me in it. I was itching to go check out some girl–girl role-playing action. I had a feeling I knew where I’d find it.
Author Bio: Jane Pinckard is editor of GameGirlAdvance, a website tracking game culture. She started her gaming habit playing burly barbarians but now she prefers sneaky rogues. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Full article can be found @ http://www.rpg.net/news+review/columns/gcg15aug03.html